Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Intelligent machines for tomorrow's factory

Date:
June 5, 2014
Source:
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Summary:
Mass production of industrial goods, such as furniture, clothing or ball pens, is inexpensive. In the future, even small series of individualized products might be manufactured rapidly and efficiently by means of intelligent machines that communicate with each other. To this end, researchers coordinate a project that is aimed at finding innovative solutions to considerably reduce changeover times in the production process.

Cooperation of intelligent machines: The robot gripper hands over a workpiece to a mobile platform that moves it to the next stage.
Credit: Irina Westermann

Mass production of industrial goods, such as furniture, clothing or ball pens, is inexpensive. In the future, even small series of individualized products might be manufactured rapidly and efficiently by means of intelligent machines that communicate with each other. To this end, researchers of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) coordinate the SkillPro EU research project that is aimed at finding innovative solutions to considerably reduce changeover times in the production process.

Having completed one order, manufacture of any new product ordered mostly requires a modification of the production process. When manufacturing small series, preparation, setup, and programming of the machine park often take much longer than manufacture proper. "Machines equipped with additional intelligence and communicating with each other are expected to significantly reduce the changeover time," says engineer Thomas Maier, Managing Director of KIT's Institute for Information Management in Engineering (IMI). A machine equipped with camera sensors, for instance, can recognize any workpiece even in case of changing products. Having examined the workpiece's shape and position, the machine can decide how to apply its gripper or suction caps and where to place the workpiece. Depending on the product, machines having gripping, welding, or bonding skills can determine their next task or production step. They "communicate" with neighboring machines and know whether they have to ask for a mobile robot to transport the product to the next workstation or the shipping department of the company.

Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular are to benefit from the intelligent production system. It allows for the low-cost production of niche products of variable shapes or fits. "The companies can offer individualized mass production and react flexibly to fluctuations in demand," Maier says. Quicker execution of small-series production will strengthen European industry production.

In the plug & produce process developed under the project, machines autonomously adjust for the product to be manufactured. The solution concept is based mainly on new developments in computer science. Prior to the start of production proper, a specially developed computer program calculates in which assembly line the orders are executed most efficiently. "Additional machines or technical capabilities can be integrated into the existing park with a small expenditure, as they inform the system about which part of the production process they will accomplish," Maier explains. The production sequence simulated in the planning phase and the real production process are displayed on a screen.

Robots and tools that communicate with each other and combine in variable factory lines within shortest periods of time are major elements of a smart factory. The factories of "Industry 4.0" combine production engineering with information technology. Under the SkillPro project, computer scientists cooperate with electrical engineers, business engineers, and mechanical engineers.

On the part of KIT, the Institute for Information Management in Engineering and the Institute for Anthropomatics and Robotics (IAR) with its Research Laboratory for Intelligent Process Control and Robotics (IPR) are involved in the project. "Existing plug & produce approaches are improved with the help of knowledge about the skills of new devices and their effects on the entire production system in terms of workflows and economic aspects," explains SkillPro coordinator Professor Björn Hein, who conducts research at the IPR. Apart from the KIT and the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies, and Image Exploitation, industry partners from France, Greece, Spain, Estonia, Finland, and Germany participate in the project. The European Union (EU) funds the research project that started in 2012 with EUR 3.8 million. The funding period will expire in September 2015. "Interim evaluation after half of the project duration confirmed the feasibility of our approach," Thomas Maier emphasizes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. "Intelligent machines for tomorrow's factory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605082958.htm>.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. (2014, June 5). Intelligent machines for tomorrow's factory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605082958.htm
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. "Intelligent machines for tomorrow's factory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605082958.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Teen's Phone Ignites Under Her Pillow; How Real Is The Risk?

Teen's Phone Ignites Under Her Pillow; How Real Is The Risk?

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — A Texas teen's Samsung phone apparently ignited while she slept, but what was the real problem here? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Reuters - US Online Video (July 27, 2014) — Congress gets rid of pesky law that made it illegal to "unlock" mobile phones without permission, giving consumers the option to use the same phone on a competitor's wireless network. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Newsy (July 26, 2014) — A bill legalizing "unlocking," or untethering a phone from its default wireless carrier, has passed Congress and is expected to be signed into law. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins